Another thing the clock gives you is a greater variety
of outcomes. A draw is virtually impossible in a
simple contest (i.e. you have to roll the same number
and have the same ability score) and is impossible in
an extended contest (someone always runs out of AP).
So, in the case of someone trying to pick a lock:
If the character wins (drives the lock to 0 or
negative AP) he gets through and the roaming whatsits
don't see him;
If the lock wins (drives the character to 0 or
negative AP) the character realises he's never going
to do it (his lock pick's broken, he's strained his
fingers, he's not clever enough);
If the clock wins (drives the character to 0 or
negative AP) the lock is intact and the character ends
up hearing a guard shout, a spear point at his throat,
staring down the barrel of a blaster, you name it.
Essentially it gives you another aid in interpreting
the outcome of a contest, 'cause by adding in another
actor into the contest you at least double the number
of possible outcomes. It also gives a lot more
narrative control to the players - they have to
decide. Do they try and "extend" the clock using an
appropriate ability or do they just knuckle down to
the task in hand and hope they can deal with it before
it's too late?
Oh, and even though I've called the external agent
"the clock" I'm sure people can find better names for
specific types of external agent - i.e. "the ref" in a
football match or "the henchman" in the lockpicking
I'd like to stress again that this is only
"necessary"* if there's a reason for an external agent
to become involved. For example you wouldn't need it
for defusing a bomb (the actors aims are "go bang" and
"stop it going bang"), being chased by a boulder
("flatten the intruder" and "run away!") or almost any
sort of combat ("Kill 'em" or "kill 'em").
As an asside, I've always judged the bids "the clock"
makes on an ad-hoc basis. Once it was even a case of
"Ooops, Dave yawned, better wind this one up now."
*"Necessary" implies that you must do it, but if
you've got another way of interpreting contest
results, go for it. This is just the most satisfying
way I've found of doing these things.
- Sam Elliot <sam.elliot1_at_...> wrote:
> --- In HeroQuest-rules_at_yahoogroups.com, Ashley
> Munday <aescleal_at_b...>
> > Sam and Mike have been discussing pacing extended
> > contests. I completely missed Sam's point in my
> > original posts (Duh!)...
> At least two other people also said they did too.
> The point is only
> now being defined I guess.
> > From re-reading bits of the conversation, one of
> > things he'd like to run a contest bound by
> > external to the main protagonists in the contest.
> > One of the ways of handling this is to add another
> > side to the contest. To complete the football
> > you'd have three sides in the contest: Team A,
> Team B
> > and the clock.
> That's a neat idea, unless it deprotagonizes the
> players or doesn't
> work dramatically as Neil suggests.
> > lock picking example. The clock would generally
> have a
> > far greater "tick" ability than the other
> > protagonists, as it allows the GM to pace the
> > If it's dragging on too long, the clock can get
> > aggressive in it's AP bids 'til one or both teams
> > loose.
> A heads up to the players in advance that the clock
> will be bidding a
> greater proportion of its AP each round could work
> in this then,
> giving the exact proportions - 10%, 20% etc. That
> would get across
> the lifeless, mechanical, steadily advancing nature
> of the opponent;
> it could act against the characters' Steady Nerves
> and so on, AP
> changes narrated purely in terms of the PC's - you
> drop the pick and
> can't see it for the life of you, and time is
> running out vs. your
> nerves steady and your hear a comfoirting click from
> within the
> > Dunno if this is sort of thing Sam was looking
> for: If
> > anyone's interested I can post an example.
> Yes I think it is (my original post had several
> things in, this seems
> to answer one of them without forcing the constraint
> into the fixed
> number of rounds idea which may not have been
> great). The lock and
> the time element could be blended into a single
> opponent, though, to
> keep it simple.
> Complete transparency and rigidness about the
> escalating bid
> proportions would work in this context, always
> allowing for the
> players to take it in a completely diffrent
> > Cheers,
> > Ash
> Think I'm getting somewhere here - thanks.
> To Post a message, send it to:
> To Unsubscribe, send a blank message to:
> To Complain constructively please email me at
> Yahoo! Groups Links